The relations of effortful control and impulsivity to children's sympathy: A longitudinal study

Nancy Eisenberg, Nicole Michalik, Tracy Spinrad, Claire Hofer, Anne Kupfer, Carlos Valiente, Jeffrey Liew, Amanda Cumberland, Mark Reiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


The relations of children's (n = 214 at Time 1; M age = 6 years at Time 1) dispositional sympathy to adult-reported and behavioral measures of effortful control (EC) and impulsivity were examined in a longitudinal study including five assessments, each two years apart. Especially for boys, relatively high levels of EC and growth in EC were related to high sympathy. Teacher-reported impulsivity was generally modestly negatively related to measures of teacher-reported sympathy for boys, and a decline in impulsivity was linked to boys' sympathy. Some findings suggested a positive association between impulsivity and children's self-reported sympathy. EC, especially when reported by teachers, was more often a unique predictor of sympathy than was impulsivity. Results generally support the argument that sympathetic individuals, especially boys, are high in EC and that EC is a more consistent predictor of sympathy than impulsivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)544-567
Number of pages24
JournalCognitive Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • Effortful control
  • Impulsivity
  • Regulation
  • Sympathy
  • Temperament

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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